Stratton best in Bakersfield USAC Western Midget runBy Bobby Gerould – March 24, 2007 – Oildale, CA. …Danny Stratton used patience and skill to win the 30-lap USAC Western Midget feature event Saturday night at a packed Bakersfield Speedway. Aboard the Michael Burkhart #21x Spike/Esslinger, Stratton passed early leader Chris Rahe on lap 21 in turn one, and then cruised to victory. Rahe finished second followed by Nathan High, Greg Bragg, and Josh Wise.


“I was telling myself to settle down, and make smooth laps”, said Stratton post-race to announcer Mike Moshier. “The Burkhart team towed all the way from Arizona to support USAC, and I wanted to give the team a strong finish.”


Stratton did just that. He also started well. He established quick time in qualifying and began the feature race in sixth position. Rahe jumped into the lead at the green flag and led the opening three circuits on the 1/3-mile dirt oval. The first of seven caution periods waived on lap three for Wise who suffered front end damage to the Cruz Pedregon owned #75 Spike/Toyota. Wise was able to restart after repairs.


At the front of the pack Rahe was leading High and defending series champion Jerome Rodela. The racing was getting more fascinating by the lap with the promise of traffic looming by lap 12. However, traffic never became an issue as the yellow flag waived after a spin by rookie Quintin Crye, offering a clear track for a restart. Stratton shot by Rodela for third place on the backchute on lap 13 just before the sixth yellow of the night – this time for a stalled Joey Fabozzi.


At the halfway point – Rahe was leading High, Stratton, Rodela, and Scott Pierovich who was celebrating his 19th birthday. On lap 16 disaster struck for Rodela. As he was approaching the start-finish line a tangle ensued that sent Rodela’s #25 flipping hard. Rodela’s car was impacted by at least one other car while it flipped, presenting a tense moment for all. Rodela did emerge from the car under his own power but admitted, “…right now everything hurts.”  Alex Harris was also involved in the Rodela crash.  


When the racing resumed, Stratton continued his march forward, passing teammate High for second with a low move in turn three. Two laps later Stratton showed Rahe the nose of the #21x in turn three, setting up the winning pass at the other end of the track. Stratton went around the outside of Rahe in turn one to seal the deal.


Harris, Wise, and Rahe were heat race winners. Stratton’s fast time-trial lap was a 13.274 second effort.


Rookie Stevie Sussex III of Tempe, AZ endured a wicked gyration that bent the cage badly on his #34 midget. The heat race crash saw the 16 year-old smack the back straightaway wall before snapping violent rolls along the crash wall. Sussex was supervised by track safety personnel but never needed a trip to the hospital.


The companion USAC Ford Focus California Dirt Midget main event was won by Nic Faas of Huntington Beach, CA. Faas used the ‘bump-n-run’ to pass leader Nick Carlson on a lap 18 restart. Said Faas of the contact with Carlson, “I ran in very hard and got underneath him just enough.  It’s not how I want to win but we’ll take it.”


The next action for the USAC Western Midget series is set for April 7, 2007 at Ventura Raceway in Ventura, CA.


USAC WESTERN MIDGET CAR RACE RESULTS: March 24, 2007Bakersfield, California - Bakersfield Speedway


      QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Danny Stratton, 21x, Burkhart-13.274; 2. Jerome Rodela, 25, Rodela-13.327; 3. Quintin Crye, 15, Crye-13.339; 4. Scott Pierovich, 35, Pierovich-13.395; 5. Nathan High, 21az, Burkhart-13.434; 6. Chris Rahe, 3, Rahe-13.458; 7-Steve Sussex, 34, Grau-13.463; 8. Josh Wise, 75, Pedregon-13.589; 9. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-13.642; 10. Alex Harris, 54, Martens-13.722; 11. Ernie Bartley III, 74, Bartley-13.813; 12. C.J. Sarna, 20, Sarna-13.918; 13. Greg Bragg, 05, Walker-13.905; 14. Darrin Bolton, XX< Bolton-13.949; 15. Randi Pankratz, 8, Pankratz-14.270; 16. Joey Fabozzi, 84, Fabozzi-14.809; 17. Doug DeWitt, 11D, DeWitt-15.070; 18. Johnny Rodriguez, 37, Mitchell-NT; 19. Matt Mitchell, 37m, Mitchell-NT.


      FIRST HEAT: (6 laps) 1. Harris, 2. Bragg, 3. Pierovich, 4. Stratton, 5. Sussex. NT


      SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Wise, 2. High, 3. Bolton, 4. Rodela, 5. Bartley, 6. DeWitt. NT


      THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Rahe, 2. McQueen, 3. Pankratz, 4. Crye, 5. Sarna, 6. Mitchell (#37). NT


      FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Danny Stratton, 2. Chris Rahe, 3. Nathan High, 4. Greg Bragg, 5. Josh Wise, 6. Darrin Bolton, 7. Shannon McQueen, 8. Scott Pierovich, 9. C.J. Sarna, 10. Doug DeWitt, 11. Jerome Rodela, 12. Alex Harris, 13. Ernie Bartley III, 14. Quintin Crye, 15. Joey Fabozzi, 16. Randi Pankratz, 17. Matt Mitchell (#37). NT


**Mitchell flipped #37m during qualifying. Sussex flipped during the first heat. Rodela flipped during the feature.


FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-20 Rahe, Laps 21-30 Stratton.


NEW WESTERN MIDGET POINTS: 1-Rahe-121; 2-Stratton-108; 3-Darren Hagen-65; 4-Pierovich-65; 5-Jerry Coons Jr.-62; 6-Rodela-61; 7-Bragg-58; 8-Mitchell-55; 9-Wise-52; 10-Bolton-52.


NEXT USAC WESTERN MIDGET RACE: April 7 – Ventura (CA) Raceway.


USAC CALIFORNIA FORD FOCUS DIRT RACE RESULTS: March 24, 2007Bakersfield, CaliforniaBakersfield Speedway


      FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Jet Davison (#59 Davison), 2. Nick Carlson (#44 Carlson), 3. Bobby Michnowicz (#21 Michnowicz/Zoriki), 4. Ricky Kirkbride (#87 Van Meter), 5. Scott Oliver (#71 Oliver). NT


      SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Nic Faas (#17 Faas), 2. Dennis Howell (#62 Howell), 3. Walt Johnson (#15 Welcomer), 4. J.R. Williams (#74 Williams), 5. Thomas Gray (#30 Gray). NT


      FEATURE: (20 laps) 1. Nic Faas, 2. Nick Carlson 3. Walt Johnson, 4. Bobby Michnowicz, 5. Jet Davison, 6. Scott Oliver, 7. J.R. Williams, 8. Dennis Howell, 9. Ricky Kirkbride, 10. Thomas Gray. NT



FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Carlson, Laps 2-10 Howell, Laps 11-17 Carlson, Laps 18-20 Faas.


NEW CALIFORNIA FORD FOCUS DIRT SERIES POINTS: 1-Carlson-131; 2-Faas-127; 3-Michnowicz-119; 4-Johnson-114; 5-Howell-110; 6-Davison-103; 7-Kirkbride-92; 8-Oliver-89; 9-Gray-80; 10-Williams-47.


NEXT CALIFORNIA FORD FOCUS RACE (Dirt): March 31 – Chowchilla (CA) Speedway